A 2.8 million-year-old jawbone fossil was dug up in the desert of Ethiopia, and another 1.8 million-year-old jaw that has been digitally remade, have completely changed what we know about the origin of modern homo sapiens.
The fossil is the oldest known representative of the genus Homo and could belong to a new entirely new species within the ancestral line, according to research published on Wednesday in the journal Science. The additional study of the 1.8 million-year-old jaw was posted in Nature.
Previously, researchers thought the Homo genus did not split off from the more primitive Australopithecus species in which the famous “Lucy” fossil relates to — until about 2.3 million years ago. This startling new discovery pushes that date back to at least 2.8 million years ago.
This is amplified by the research on the younger jaw, which suggests that the more advanced Homo habilis had a stunningly primitive jaw, and may have originated earlier than we previously imagined.
The Modern humans first appeared 200,000 years ago.
Vocativ created this graphic showing how the fossil has changed what we know about the timeframe of the origin of the human race: